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Phuket health officials issue haze warning, free masks issued

Phuket health officials issue haze warning, free masks issued

PHUKET: The chief of the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) has issued a health advisory over the Indonesian forest fire haze that has blanketed Phuket since yesterday.

By The Phuket News

Monday 23 September 2019, 10:51AM

PPHO Chief Thanit Sermkaew issued the health advisory this morning (Sept 23).

“I have issued an advisory for people with breathing difficulties, as well as children and the elderly, to stay indoors,” Chief Thanit told The Phuket News.

“People with heart or lung conditions are urged to please be careful. If your chest begins to hurt, or if you develop a headache or it becomes difficult to breath, please see a doctor,” he added.

“I have issued repeated announcements to every government hospital and health centre in Phuket that they must provide free masks to people.

“If any official refuses to support or help people who have trouble breathing, please call the Phuket Provincial Health Office (Tel: 076-212297, 076-222913), because it is PPHO policy to help and support people right now,” he said.

Regional Environmental Office 15 (Phuket office) Chief Yongyut Panitaungkul also called on people in Phuket to start wearing masks and to stay indoors to protect themselves from the haze.

“The haze originates from forest fires from Indonesia. The northern tip of Sumatra is just over 285km southwest of Phuket, Mr Yongyut said.

“According to Thailand's air quality and situation reports by Pollution Control Department, a reading this morning of under 116 is considered ‘Unhealthy’, and readings from 101-200 is marked ‘Affects health’,” he said.

Mr Yongyuth explained that that he used the Pollution Control Department’s Air4Thai web portal for updates. (Click here.)

QSI International School Phuket

“It provides reports every 24 hours and its advisory concerning people’s health are more reliable,” he said.

Air4Thai as of 10am gave a PM 2.5 reading of 121, which was regarded as “Unhealthy” and given the advisory: “General public is not likely to be affected. Some at-risk individuals who are usually sensitive may experience symptoms such as sore eyes, cough, sore throat or breathing difficulty, and should consider reducing strenuous physical activity outdoors. At-risk individuals: Children, elderly, pregnant women and individuals with lung problems, or heart problems.”

However, the longstanding Air Quality Data web portal provided by the Division of Air Quality Data, Air Quality and Noise Management Bureau, Pollution Control Department (aqmthai.com) today reported Phuket Town as suffering a PM 2.5 reading of 158, also officially regarded as “Unhealthy”. (See report here.)

The Pollution Control Department (PCD) on Thursday warned the governors of advised governors in seven southern provinces – Trang, Songkhla, Satun, Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Phattalung – to brace for haze over the next few days, and told them to prepare safe zones to limit health impacts from breathing the toxic smog. (See story here.)

The haze hit Phuket yesterday with the PCD giving a PM 2.5 reading of 170.

“I think the air will be better today (Sept 23) if the wind comes from the east of Thailand,” Mr Yongyuth added, noting that the prevailing winds are still coming from the southwest.

“At this stage, I can’t say when the weather will be better. It depends on the wind,” he added.

“People should wear masks when they go outside or do any activity. The best mask is the N95 type. If you do not have one of those, then please use something as a mask – that is better than nothing,” Mr Yongyut said. 

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Kurt | 23 September 2019 - 12:51:59

With all this Phuket smog happening/warnings, was the Sunday mass cycling event cancelled for health reasons? On Sunday it was very bad. Couldn't see for many hours Big Buddha on top of the hill.  Lucky we got rain Sunday evening.

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